Monday, October 20, 2014

Candied Yam Marshmallow Casserole S'mores

Candied yam marshmallow s’mores? If you just made a face and thought, “Seriously?” you aren’t alone. When I started thinking about this little Thanksgiving leftovers gem I decided to talk it through with someone who can actually cook well (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – even though I highly enjoy the creative aspect of cooking, I’m not exactly a chef).

Marshmallow casserole
So, I brought the super-sweet s’mores idea to my mom. She just shook her head and mumbled something along the lines of, “Who would eat that?” Well, I would (and I did!). And my son (like many other kids) would. This isn’t a fine dining recipe, and adults may cringe at the thought of it. But, at its most basic it’s akin to a deconstructed sweet potato (or rather, yam) pie. Think about it, the graham crackers are like the graham crust, then you’ve got the yams that are like sweet potatoes, splash in some cinnamon, mix in creamy marshmallows and top with some white chocolate. It’s a pie in sandwich form!

If you’re wondering what to do differently with those Thanksgiving Day leftovers, the candied yam s’more may just become a holiday tradition for your kiddos!

Yams Marshmallows
Before you can assemble the s’more, you’ll need one of my favorite turkey day dishes ever: The candied yam marshmallow casserole. When I was little my mom’s friend used to make this sweet holiday treat every year. When she moved away I had to go without it, until I my early 20’s when I realized I could make it myself. Basically, you’ll need to buy a can of yams and follow the directions on the back. It will go something like – mash the yams, mix in a tablespoon of melted butter, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Throw in a few marshmallows and stir it together. Pour the mix into an oven-safe pan and top with a layer of marshmallows. Pop it out and now-

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Your marshmallow casserole

·        Graham crackers

·        Cranberry sauce – Yes, cranberry sauce.

·        White chocolate

·        Cinnamon

·        Optional: Whipped cream

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Spoon a layer of cranberry sauce onto a graham cracker.

2.     Place a piece of white chocolate on the other graham.

Cranberry Sauce
3.     Warm up the casserole (if it isn’t already). Layer it on over the chocolate. The warmth from the yams will help to melt the chocolate.

Sweet S'mores
4.     Sandwich the s’more together with the cranberry sauce-covered cracker.

5.     Add a melted marshmallow or whipped cream on top.

Thanksgiving treat
6.     Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon over the s’more.

Kids' Holiday
This isn’t just a treat for the kids. You can also use this is a science and math activity. Talk about the science of cooking. Ask her how and why the marshmallows change as you heat them. Let her measure and mix the ingredients when making the casserole. You can also help her to build fine motor abilities by letting her piece together the post-Thanksgiving s’more stack snack.

Are you looking for more sweet s’mores? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ivory Soap Science and Art

What kid doesn’t love the expanding Ivory soap in the microwave science experiment? If you haven’t done it before, it’s super-easy. Pop a bar of Ivory in the microwave (on a microwave-safe dish) and watch as it grows and molds itself into a cloud of soapy fluff. Every appliance varies, so the amount of time that your bar of soap needs may differ from mine. I started with 30 seconds, but had to add on more time. Be careful when you remove it. The fluffed-out soap is hot. Even though it will start to deflate as it cools, your child needs to wait before she touches it. As a bonus –your microwave will now smell soapy fresh!

Kids' activities
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As if the heated Ivory exploration wasn’t fun enough on its own, we added an art activity to the soapy science. Take the sensory exploration up a notch, add some oil, spill on a few drips of tempera and turn the soap flakes into totally textured finger paints!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        The microwaved bar of Ivory soap

·        Vegetable or olive oil

·        Measuring spoons

·        Bowls or plastic-ware containers

·        Tempera paints in the primary colors (red, yellow and blue)

·        Wax paper

·        Paper

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Break off some of the soap explosion cloud that you’ve created. Put it in a bowl or plastic-ware container.

Soap science
2.     Drizzle a teaspoon or so of vegetable or olive oil onto the soap. P.S. – This step sneaks a math lesson in. Let your child use the measuring spoons to add the oil. The oil will help the mixture to blend. If it still seems sticky, your child can add another teaspoon. If there’s too much, blot the soap with a paper towel.

Kids' art
3.     Spill the paint into the mix. The amount of paint that your child adds depends on how much soap you’re using. The equivalent of a teaspoon full (you probably don’t want to use the teaspoon that you cook with) is a good place to start.

4.     Mix the soap, oil and paint. Your child can use her hands to do this. If needed, add more paint.

Children's art
5.     Pour the chunky soap paint onto a piece of wax paper. This acts as a barrier between the paint and your table.

6.     Repeat the steps for the other two primary colors.

Soap paint

Science art
7.     It’s finger painting time! Your child can blend together the primaries to create secondary colors (orange, green and purple) on a piece of construction paper or card stock.

Kids' art
Don’t worry about your child making “something”. The goal of this art activity is to explore the soap, discover the different textures (it’s bumpy, lumpy, chunky and smooth all at once) and ply with the colors. In the end, your child may just have an abstract masterpiece that rivals any contemporary work displayed in a museum.

Are you looking for more art and science activities? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Popcorn Print Thanksgiving Turkey Art

I firmly believe that the Thanksgiving handprint turkey craft can always use an upgrade. Ok, maybe saying “firmly believe” is a bit excessive. I’m just saying – I have a stockpile of these projects from my son’s preschool and early elementary school years. Somewhere packaged up in my parents’ basement there’s probably a decades-old box that holds my own sweet little handprint turkeys. While in all honestly I have no issue with this project, I’ve been trying to think of other types of turkey crafts.

Paint print
A few days ago we made shaving cream turkeys. With a little bit of paint and a whole lot of shaving cream, paper shapes transformed into textured Thanksgiving art! This time I’m using corn. Corn says “fall” (the season) to me. So, I wanted to incorporate it into this holiday-themed activity.

Instead of a corn stalk, I’m opting for the popping (or rather, popped) kind. Whenever we make popcorn it always seems like half the bowl ends up on the floor. So, before the dog got to it, I rescued some of the popped kernels for this project.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Popcorn

·        Wax paper

·        Tempera paint in fall colors (red, yellow, orange, brown)

·        Construction paper

·        Scissors

·        A marker

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        Googley eyes

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Draw a circle and an oval on a piece of paper. These are the head and body of the turkey. Cut these out.

Kids' math
2.     Glue the oval and the circle onto another piece of paper.

Kids' shapes
3.     Make a turkey face. Your child can glue two googley eyes onto the circle and draw a triangle as a beak.

Children's crafts

Bird art
4.     Pour a few golf ball-sized pools of paint onto the wax paper. The wax paper will keep the paint from sinking through to the table.

Kids' paint
5.     Dip the popped popcorn into the first paint color. Have your child use it to make textured prints around the turkey as feathers.

Paint Print

Kids' paint

Paint art
6.     Repeat this process with other colors.

Print paint

Kids' art
Turkey Paint
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thanksgiving Turkey Art with Sensory Shaving Cream

I have a stockpile of Thanksgiving hand-print turkeys. My son is 13 now, so as you can imagine, he’s done the much beloved project about a zillion times. And while the kiddos love using their tiny little fingers to paint print gobblers, I wanted to do something a little bit different.
Fall crafts

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So, I brought in some shaving cream. I’ve made shaving cream fall trees and even Monet’s Water Lilies. But, this time I’m combining basic geometry and turkey-time with shaving cream paint. This sensory activity is an all-out art experience that lets your child feel and create textures on her paper. Yes, it’s messy – and that’s half (or more than half) of the fun! That said, if you put down a piece of wax paper under your child’s work area (and it can hold the shaving cream too!) you’ll minimize the mess and make clean-up easier.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Shaving cream – I like the plain kind. Some kids (and parents) are sensitive to the scent of the aloe-infused, cologne-filled version.

·        Tempera paint – I used Crayola washable liquid paints, but you can mix in powdered too.

·        Card stock paper – You can also use poster board, or any other thick paper.

·        Scissors

·        A marker
Fall paint

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Draw a circle (for the turkey’s head) and an oval (for the body) onto colored card stock paper. Have your child name the shapes as you point to them. The head should be about the size of the bottom of a soup can. The oval should be two to three times larger. Cut the shapes out.

Kids' geometry

2.     Glue the shapes to a piece of white paper. Ask your child to “put together the puzzle” and line up the circle and the oval so that they make a turkey (minus the feathers).
Paper crafts

Thanksgiving art

3.     Design a face. Cut two circle shapes for the eyes and a triangle for the beak. Glue these to the face. Your child can fold the flat edge of the triangle beak down to make a tab. When she glues down the tab, she’ll create a 3-D nose.

Shape art

4.     Make three or more piles of shaving cream on a piece of wax paper.
Kids' sensory

5.     Mix paint into each pile of shaving cream. Your child can add one color to each dollop or blend a few different ones. For example, have her mix red and yellow to make orange. Let your little artist get messy, and encourage her to use her hands to mix the colors.
Shaving cream

6.     Finger paint the turkey’s feathers with the colorful shaving cream. Your child can dip and dot the bumpy, lumpy ‘paint’ on the paper around the oval body. The more layers that she piles on, the more textured the artwork will have.
Children's paint

fall art
Turkey Crafts

Are you looking for more Thanksgiving activities for your child to try? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Kids' Halloween Party Planning Ideas

So, you’re having a Halloween party for the kids? While I’m certain that there are plenty of parents out there who are super-organized and have parties planned from the second that they out them on their calendars – I’m not one of them. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day. Between carpools, homework, soccer practice, cooking, shopping (the necessary kind, not the good kind) and everything else that you do on a daily basis, if it’s a few weeks before Halloween and you’re yet to plan the night’s festivities – no one will fault you.
Kids' holiday

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I find it’s easiest to plan a kids’ arty by grouping what you need. Keep in mind, some of these may overlap. For example, you need food. But, you don’t have to serve ready-made treats. Instead you can have the kids decorate cupcakes or make s’mores as part of a party activity. A few of my favorites (that I’ve made) include these easy sweet treat options. Click on the pictures for the full list of instructions:

Candy Corn S’mores

Sure, a bowl of candy corn is fun. But, why not have the kids decorate their own flavored s’mores in yellow, orange and white? I used candy corn M&M’s as décor.

S'mores Treats
Monster Cupcakes

Ewwww! Bake up these creepy cupcakes with a special secret ingredient (its sour apple Kool-Aid) and let the kids press on candy monster eyes.

Monster Cupcakes
Monster S’mores

Much like the monster cupcakes – minus the sour taste.
Halloween sweets

CSI Cupcakes

These blood-soaked cupcakes are just regular chocolate cakes with white frosting. Let the kids drip ‘blood’ (red food coloring) on the frosting for a Halloween effect.

CSI Cupcakes
Glow-in-the-Dark Cupcakes

My son loved making these. You’ll need a black light, green gelatin and tonic water. Make the gelatin with the tonic and watch it glow under the black light. Have the party guests top frosted cupcakes (use white or a light-colored frosting) with gelatin to create ‘alien slime’ or ‘monster snot’.

Glowing Dessert
While these party treats also double as activities, you can also add in a craft or two. Make these during the party or create them with your kids ahead of time to use as décor.

Glitter Spider Webs

Yes, you’ll get glitter all over your house. But, the kids will enjoy this one. As a bonus – you only need three materials.

Halloween Spiders
Sea Shell Halloween Critters

Paint, draw on and cover clam shells to make cute, no-so-creepy pumpkins, mummies and spiders.

Shell Critters
Paper Mache Pumpkins

This sculpture activity is a bit extensive for party-time. That said, it does make a creative decoration for a buffet table. Have your child create it a few days beforehand, giving the pumpkin time to dry.

Paper mache
Halloween Wreath

Another pre-party décor option. Reuse a pizza box and turn it into a frightful decoration for the front door.

Kids' craft
Brain Dough

This simple homemade play dough recipe is scented and colored with raspberries. Mix up a batch before the party starts, put it in a bowl and let the kids mush up the icky ‘brain dough’.

Halloween dough
Glow-in-the-Dark Paint

If you already have the black light out for the glowing cupcakes, try this activity as well. Mix glowing paint with shaving cream or use it on its own to make cute, but kind of creepy, creations!

Glow-in-the-Dark Art

Story Time!

When the kids need a break, sit them down in a circle and read a book. Halloween titles that young children will enjoy include:

·        Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

·        Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli and Tim Zeltner

·        Pinkalicious: Pink or Treat by Victoria Kann
·        Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

Are you looking for more ideas? Follow my fall Pinterest board for recipes, games and other activities!

Halloween Glitter Spider Web Kids' Art Activity

Halloween is quickly approaching. If you’re looking for a super-easy art activity to do in a pinch, this spider web project fits the bill. With only three ‘ingredients’, it doesn’t take much planning or a huge chunk of time. What’s the main ingredient? Obviously- glitter! And, what child doesn’t love the sparkly stuff? Sure, it’s not always the neatest craft material. But, does that mean you have to nix it from your artsy arsenal?

Halloween art
Put an opened garbage bag or extra piece of large paper down under your child’s art. This helps to catch the glitter, instead of letting it float onto the floor, table, your child, etc. Now that you’ve prepped, let’s make some Halloween art!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Black card stock paper

·        Clear-drying school glue

·        Glitter

Glitter spider
Here’s What to Do:

1.     Draw the spider web design using the glue. Make sure that the nozzle isn’t clogged up with bits and pieces of dried glue. Have your child squeeze the glue out in the spider web shape.

2.     Draw a plus sign. Then, have your child draw another line across the plus sign. She should have six lines total, all attached at the center.

School glue
3.     Connect each line with a curved horizontal line. Continue this, having your child progress outwards to make the spider web complete. She should keep going until she reaches the ends of the six lines.

Kids' crafts

Glue crafts
4.     Sprinkle glitter over the glue. Your child can use one color, or combine a few.

Gold sparkles

Sparkle art
5.     Shake the excess glitter off of the glue and into a bag. Have your child use this to cover any spots that don’t have glitter on them. Save the rest for future crafting.
Halloween art

Glitter webs
If you want to add another layer (literally) to the project, glue on a few spiders! Check out my spider glitter paint print activity. After your child creates the not-so-creepy critters, have her cut them out and glue them to the web.

Are you looking for more Halloween activities? Follow my fall Pinterest board for ideas!
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